A farmer found this Colombian 1828 gold 8-escudo coin in Jamaica
this summer while tilling his land on the eastern side of the island.
The farmer plans to sell the coin, but as a scholar (here doing
research on a book), I am interested in the history of this coin as it
relates to relations between Jamaica (a British colony at the time)
and Colombia (a newly independent nation-state) during the early 19th century.
What would a Colombian coin be doing in Jamaica during that time?
Georgia State University
What constitutes money was a less rigid concept in the past than
it is today. Try to spend a euro coin in Iowa and see how far you get.
But until 1857, foreign coinage was legal tender in the United
States. The chief concern when accepting a coin then, in the United
States or abroad, was whether it was of sound metal, as evidenced by
chopmarks affixed to silver dollars in the Far East or the repurposing
of Spanish colonial silver 8-real coins in Australia and Prince Edward
Island to make Holey dollars and Dump coins.
That a gold coin of a South American country would be found in the
Caribbean is not surprising; Latin American coins circulated with wide
acclaim. They were cut and countermarked in various Caribbean islands
during coinage shortages, including in Jamaica in the late 1700s.
According to Fred Pridmore in The Coins of the British
Commonwealth of Nations, Part 3, Spanish colonial coins were legal
tender in Jamaica until April 1, 1901.
This example was struck at the Bogota Mint and is common,
according to The Gold Coinage of Gran Colombia by Frank Sedwick
(1991). It contains the equivalent of .7614 ounce of pure gold and
trades for a slight premium.
I recently found a coin my grandfather gave to me as a child; my
parents kept it for me. It is a 1918 Republica De Colombia gold 5-peso piece.
I believe it is real gold, and while it doesn’t appear Mint
condition, it is still recognizable. Does it have value other than the
sheer gold value?
The gold 5-peso coin showing a workman chipping at rock, as your
example shows, was issued from 1913 to 1919. These were struck of .917
fine gold, for an actual gold content of .2355 troy ounce.
An About Uncirculated 55 example sold June 4 in an Ira & Larry
Goldberg Coins and Collectibles sale for $402.50, including 15 percent
buyers’ fee, when the “spot” price of gold gave the coin an intrinsic
value of about $330.
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